Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - Thick smog in Pekanbaru, Riau, arising from land and forest fires, has compelled the local government to close schools in the city, a city spokesman stated.

Pekanbaru Mayor Firdaus has given instructions to schools to put a stop to their activities, Mawardi, head of the information and communication office of Pekanbaru, stated here on Tuesday.

"The instruction was given based on the latest condition on haze that had blanketed Pekanbaru City due to land and forest fires in some regions," he remarked.

Related news: Air-polluting forest fire hotspots in Riau reach 154

Mawardi noted that related institutions had recommended the authority to halt activities at schools owing to the deteriorating air quality.

The authority has also appealed to parents to ensure their children wear face masks during outdoor activities.

Thick smog blanketed Pekanbaru City on early Tuesday, with visibility lowered to only 800 meters at 8 a.m. local time.

Related news: Forest fire-induced haze lowers visibility in Pekanbaru to 1.5 km

Some students have already arrived at schools in the morning, but their teachers sent them back home. Some other schools have already begun sharing information on the shutdown on late Monday.

The Pekanbaru meteorology station reported that 448 hotspots were observed across Sumatra Island, constituting 154 hotspots in Riau Province’s eight districts on Saturday morning, depleting the air quality in parts of the province.

Of the total figure, 60 were spotted in Pelalawan District, 42 in Indragiri Hulu, 34 in Indragiri Hilir, six in Meranti, five in Kuansing, three in Bengkalis, and two respectively in Kampar and Rokan Hilir, Ahmad Agus Widodo, analyst at the Pekanbaru meteorology station, remarked.

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At least 97 of the 154 hotspots had developed into firespots, strongly suggestive of forest fires.

A total of 45 firespots were found in Pelalawan, 25 in Indragiri Hulu, 19 in Indragiri Hilir, one in Kuansing, three in Meranti, and two each in Rokan Hilir and Bengkalis.

The air quality in parts of Riau was considered unhealthy, including in Rokan Hilir and Pekanbaru, where the air quality was also very unhealthy. Related news: Tesso Nilo's elephants show signs of stress due to forest fire

Reporter: Vera Lusiana, Sri Haryati
Editor: Azizah Fitriyanti
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